Jessica Wuetschner isn’t your ordinary footballer. The speedy on-baller balances her footballing responsibilities with a job as a steveodore at the Port of Brisbane, a role that can change so much that she might not know what her next shift entails until the afternoon of the day before. Here she details her incredible life outside of the AFLW in an exclusive column:
My job varies from day-to-day and that impacts on the time I wake up and my daily routines. I’m a stevedore at the Port of Brisbane, which means my job involves loading and unloading shipping cargo.
I generally don’t know when I am working until 2:30pm the day before, so sometimes I’ll be working a day shift, an evening shift or an overnight shift. During the season I always block off evening shifts, which leaves me available for day and overnight shifts — it can definitely get a bit hectic.
If I am working a day shift, I wake up at 5:30am and work through until 3pm. After work, I go home and head straight to training. We start at 6:30pm but need to arrive by 6pm.
Over pre-season at Brisbane we train five sessions a week — two gym sessions and then three field training sessions. While these only go for 2-2.5 hours, we cool down and recover after that so they can often end late.
We don’t normally finish training until 9pm, so I don’t eat dinner until late at night. Having such a big day I tend to fall asleep around 10:30pm and do it all again the next day.
However, like I said earlier sometimes I will work an overnight shift. When that happens, I go to training and follow the same protocol but after training I have to go into work and don’t finish until 7am. I’ll have a sleep during the day and then go back to training the next evening.
My tasks at work can vary day-to-day. Some days I’ll be lashing and de-lashing which is quite physical. When a container is loaded onto the ships, it is secured to the structure so lashing involves ensuring the container is safe and secure. Doing a physical job like that can be quite draining on the body.
Other days, I will be in the straddle, which is a little bit better in terms of the physical strain. Driving around a huge machine on the port is challenging when you’re running on little sleep — the level of concentration is mentally draining.
When I’m working night shifts I definitely struggle because my body clock is out of whack and it often takes me a full day to recover.
Although the roster is sent out at 2:30pm the day before, sometimes you can get called into work just hours before a shift. On those days it can be a bit of a struggle because you have to try and fit in your own gym session before then.
Being a stevedore, we have to be open to working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so I work plenty of weekend shifts.
It’s definitely a juggling act, especially when I don’t know if I am going to be working on a day.
I try and fit my own training regime into my schedule so that I can continue my five days a week but the uncertainty of not knowing what is going on with my work can be a bit of a struggle at times.
Although it can be challenging I am also lucky in the sense that I can train around my shifts, if I need to go to the gym during the day or if I need to go at night I will.